In MacDonald v. Commonwealth, 83 Va. Cir. 485 (Fairfax County 2011), the petitioner moved to expunge police records and court records related to a charge of reckless driving.
In district court, the petitioner had been charged with reckless driving, but he never pled guilty to the charge, nor did the court convict him. Instead, the court found him guilty of improper driving, and his reckless driving charge was dismissed. After the trial, he moved to expunge the reckless driving charge.
Under Virginia law, a charge can be expunged if the defendant neither pled guilty to the charge nor if there was a finding of facts sufficient for guilt of the charge.
Why did the petitioner want the reckless driving charge expunged under Virginia law? Presumably, he wanted to make sure that an employer did not discover the charge if they ran a criminal background check. Improper driving is a traffic citation, whereas reckless driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, carrying with it serious consequences. By expunging the charge of reckless driving, the petitioner was protecting his reputation in the workplace.
The Court agreed with the petitioner and expunged the reckless driving charge under Virginia law. The Court held that the reckless driving charge had been “otherwise dismissed” when he was found guilty of improper driving, not reckless driving. Since improper driving is not a lesser-included offense of reckless driving, the petitioner was effectively found not guilty of reckless driving charge, and therefore it could be expunged.
By obtaining an expungement, the records related to the reckless driving charge were permanently sealed. They would never show up on a background check at work or school, nor would they interfere with obtaining a security clearance.
Do You Qualify for Expungement?
If you need help cleaning up your criminal record for work or school, contact a Virginia expungement lawyer for more information.